Dec 052014

Jose Mari Chan (below photo: wife Maryann Ansaldo and their daughter Liza Chan-Parpan): A winner never quits, right?

I guess the first person who will be pleasantly shocked by today’s headline is, you guessed it, Jose Mari Chan.

“But that’s the persistent rumor circulating in the US,” according to Edmund Silvestre, Funfare’s Big Apple correspondent. “People in the US kasi remember that the Constant Change and Beautiful Girl singer mentioned in a previous interview that he didn’t know how much longer he could keep his voice or until when people would flock to his shows leading to speculations that the 69-year-old crooner is considering retirement.”

This is why Joe Mari’s pre-Christmas concert, Going Home To Christmas (which is the title of his new fast-selling album) set for Saturday, Dec. 6 (US time), at the grand ballroom of the Golden Nugget Casino Hotel & Marina in Atlantic City, New Jersey, is touted as the Filipino concert event of the year.

Added Edmund, “Some believe he may even make an announcement similar to what another OPM icon, the APO Hiking Society, did years ago when it mounted its farewell US concert tour and then retired as the Philippines’ most successful music trio.”

I texted Joe Mari and he replied direct from New York: “No, absolutely not true. For as long as there are people who will still enjoy listening to my songs, I’ll be up there on stage to sing for them…anytime, anywhere; here or abroad. One never retires from a hobby. There’ll always be a song to sing.”

There you are. Loud and clear, Edmund.

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The Dec. 6 show’s producers, Drs. Ramon and Ching Legarda of Group Ole Productions, who also happen to be good friends with Joe Mari and his family, said it’s not uncommon among veteran artists to announce retirement due to the rigid schedule and demands of staging major concerts.

“Joe Mari has been in the music business for over four decades now and if ever, he just probably wants to take it slow,” said Dr. Ramon. “But I don’t think we will hear the last of him as a performer. He has tons of chart-topping songs that even the present generation loves to listen to and sing.”

The morning teleserye Be Careful With My Heart (inspired by Joe Mari’s duet with Regine Velasquez song of the same title), which just ended after nearly two years on air, “became an unexpected smash hit not only because of its kilig plot but also because of the song’s universal theme and appeal,” Dr. Ramon noted. “His song My Woman, My Girl And My Friend is also a good title for a light drama series.”

   “Although he’s talking about retirement, Joe Mari still has a lot to offer,” Dr. Ching added. “Just look at Tony Bennett or Willie Nelson, they’re already in their 80s but they continue to entertain…as long as people want them. Even singers like Cher and Barbra Streisand kept staging farewell concert tours only to come back later and hold more shows and produce more albums. I don’t think Joe Mari will stop. At least not now.”

An avid Jose Mari Chan fan, Edmund suddenly went on a nostalgic trip.  

Joe Mari was officially introduced in the entertainment world as the host and singer of a TV show called 9 Teeners of ABS-CBN in 1966. His first single, Afterglow, was released in 1967 and his first long-playing album Deep in My Heart followed in 1969. Since then, he has become the toast of the music industry as fans fell for his silvery voice and beautiful, heart-warming love songs, not to mention his boyish looks, disarming charm and humility.

Even when he moved to the US in 1975 to attend to his family’s sugar business, his timeless songs had been played constantly on airwaves until he returned home in mid-’80s with the release of his album A Golden Collection, a compilation of his hits along with a brand-new composition Tell Me Your Name which successfully introduced him to a new generation of fans.

Continued Edmund, “Today, Joe Mari remains the undisputed best-selling local artist in the Philippines, with his two smash albums, Christmas in Our Hearts and Constant Change, occupying the second and third spots, respectively, in the official list of top-selling Pinoy albums. According to the Philippine Association of the Record Industry (PARI) data, both albums have so far sold nearly one million copies each.”

Interestingly, Christmas in Our Hearts keeps making a comeback in the charts year after year during Yuletide season since its release in 1990, according to industry data. Going Home To Christmas (featured in this corner last week) is making a record of its own.

 Constant Change, Joe Mari’s sixth album which is composed of now immortal OPM songs (that include Beautiful Girl; Please Be Careful With My Heart; My Girl, My Woman, My Friend; and Constant Change) was named Best Album during the Awit Awards the same year it was released in 1989, and also the first OPM album to have received the Diamond Record Awards; it later surpassed the Double Diamond status just like his Christmas In Our Hearts.

“My daughter Liza and I have sung Christmas in Our Hearts in concerts here and abroad,” Joe Mari recalled in a past interview with The Philippine STAR. “She was only 19 when we recorded it. Now she’s in her 40s and is a mom.” (Note: Liza’s married surname was misspelled in Funfare’s last story about the singing Chan family. She’s now Liza Chan-Parpan.)

As most people must know by now, Liza was not the first choice to sing it with her father.

“It was supposed to be Lea Salonga,” Joe Mari revealed. “However, Lea’s recording contract didn’t allow her to guest on a competing label. It was really destiny that Liza would sing that song with me. The father-daughter tandem gave it that extra heart-warming touch, delivering the true meaning of Christmas.”

Twenty-two years later, Joe Mari released the Christmas memorabilia album Going Home to Christmas, which has 23 tracks, 18 of them original. The album is also fast becoming a favorite must-have for Christmas among Pinoys since its release in 2012.

Edmund reported that Joe Mari’s Dec. 6 Atlantic City concert, will also feature Liza (expect their Christmas in Our Hearts duet) and his son Franco. Joe Mari’s wife Mary Ann and other children will be present. He will also be accompanied in some of his numbers by the renowned San Lorenzo Ruiz Choir, under choirmaster and young tenor Jun Peneverde, as well as the versatile and sought-after band, the Sounds of Manila.

The Chans are coming back on Wednesday, Dec. 10.

What’s up?

 I woke up this morning with most aches and pains, particularly around my elbow (tennis’ elbow?), gone. They have been bothering me for weeks, caused no doubt by lifting pieces of luggage from the carousel during travels abroad.

I should thank Reynaldo O. Sta. Maria for the big relief. Reynaldo is the clinic director/myotherapist (trigger point dry needling) of MSquare Mtyotherapy & Rehab Clinic (at #7-A Granada St., New Manila, Valencia, Quezon City) where most showbiz friends (including Jojo Gabinete who referred me to it) go for treatment. Reynaldo’s phone numbers are 470-8476, 546-3311 and 0917-5053655.

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